By: Zoe Whitehouse
Impunity Watch Reporter, Latin America
MEXICO CITY, Mexico — A state tribunal court in Querétaro, Mexico has overturned a sixteen-year prison conviction for Dafne McPherson, a woman accused of inducing her own abortion. The reviewing court has found the evidence presented by prosecutors was unreliable.
In early 2015, McPherson felt a sharp pain in her abdomen while working at a Liverpool department store in San Juan del Río. At the time, McPherson was unaware that she was pregnant. Rather, she believed that her weight gain and infrequent periods were symptoms of her hypothyroidism.
McPherson then went into labor in a department store bathroom and sought medical assistance. However, private security guards at the department store refused to call a Red Cross ambulance, leading McPherson to wait for a private ambulance. The attending paramedics noted that she had fainted and had experienced extreme blood loss when they arrived.
While Mexico City outlawed the criminalization of abortion in 2007, conservative Mexican states are still filing criminal charges against women who miscarry or experience complications during childbirth. On September 2, 2015, police detained McPherson.
Prosecutors had alleged that McPherson intentionally induced her abortion and suffocated the baby when attempting to flush infant down the toilet.
McPherson’s initial case was fraught with defense issues. Her family members state McPherson’s first attorney charged for legal services but failed to develop a defense or trial strategy. Immediately prior to trial, the lower court disqualified her second attorney because he had not prepared for a newly implemented judicial system. The court then assigned a public defender at the last minute. However, the attorney failed to call witnesses, to offer exculpatory evidence, and to object to the prosecutor’s characterization of McPherson’s acts as doing something “not even a dog would do.”
As a result, Dafne McPherson was convicted of homicide and sentenced to a sixteen-year prison term in 2016.
Aureliano Hernández, McPherson’s appellate attorney, had introduced evidence that the infant’s death was caused by inadequate facilities and a lack of medical attorney. Attorney Hernández had stated that the baby fell into the toilet because McPherson had fainted from extreme blood loss.
The tribunal court overturned McPherson’s conviction. The twenty-nine-year-old mother has returned home to her seven-year-old daughter, Lia.
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